Questions related to the perception and measurement of light (primarily in the visible range), its mathematical description, the reproduction of colors by different means, color combinations, etc. Please use the tag [electromagnetic-radiation] if you want to refer to the general form of light.

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Why is the speed-of-light “the upper limit” rather than the speed of “particle type X”?

Basically, I can't stop wondering why light (the photon) is so special, compared to all the other particles known (and unknown) to modern day physics. Could it be that there exists an upper limit on ...
2
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3answers
10k views

3d holograms - How are they created?

How do 3d holograms work exactly? I read that there is a laser in use, but how are the multiple perspectives generated and how is the light trapped? in a certain area to create the effect? ...
4
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2answers
589 views

Does diffraction occur before interference?

In the double slit experiment, light passes through two slits and the waves interfere and form an interference pattern. A single slit is required for diffraction. So, I was thinking about whether ...
4
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1answer
573 views

Does light induce an electric current in a conductor?

I know that electromagnetic waves induce electric currents in conductors and that's the basis for radio, wi-fi etc. I also know that light is also an electromagnetic wave. So, can light induce a ...
4
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3answers
815 views

Why do electrons around nucleus radiate light according to classical physics

As I navigate through physics stackexchange, I noticed Electron model under Maxwell's theory. Electrons radiate light when revolving around nucleus? Why is it so obvious? Note that I do not know ...
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4answers
458 views

What was the motivation behind suggesting the trichromatic theory of vision?

Background In this thread, I asked whether it is true that the colors red, green and blue, through additive mixture, can make up any color. Turns out they can't. However, when reading about the ...
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2answers
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How do I calculate the power consumed by a lightbulb?

I'm studying a lightbulb and its variable resistance, given by the expression: $R(T) = Ro[1 + α(T-T_0)]$, where $R_0$ is the resistance of the lamp at $T_0$. In this case, $R$ is not given by Ohm's ...
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5answers
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Can someone explain the science behind MIT's 230% efficient LEDs?

I was reading Gizmodo the other day and I didn't quite understand the Physics behind this. Could anybody shed some light on how this effect actually works?
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3answers
629 views

Why do stars flicker?

Why do stars flicker and planets don't? At least this is what I've read online and seen on the night sky. I've heard that it has to do something with the fact that stars emit light and planets reflect ...
5
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1answer
929 views

Visible light spectrum to color space

I need to be able to convert an arbitrary emission spectrum in the visible spectrum range (i.e. for every wavelength between 380 and 780, I have a number between 0 and 1 that represents the ...
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1answer
3k views

Purple doesn't occur in rainbow - or does it?

Usually, when asked whether the purple color exists rainbows, an answer similar to this is given: The purple color is perceived by human eyes via the activation of both red-sensitive and ...
3
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1answer
230 views

What is the sun's spectral series?

My physics book says that six colors can be distinctly seen in white light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Does solar light only use these six wavelengths and mix them additively, or ...
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3answers
827 views

What color would you see if you place 2 mirrors in opposit when one is a one way mirror

What would you see if you have 2 huge mirrors (you cant look over it or next to it) You place them with the reflecting side to each other and you look in the mirror from behind one mirror (one way ...
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2answers
133 views

Can relativistic momentum (photons) be used as propulsion for 'free' after the initial generation?

In discussing this question about propelling a spacecraft with photons and their relativistic momentum, the author asked that I restate my comment as another question. If photons can really be used ...
98
votes
7answers
8k views

Stupid yet tricky question: Why do we actually see the sun?

I haven't yet gotten a good answer to this: If you have two rays of light of the same wavelength and polarization (just to make it simple for now, but it easily generalizes to any range and all ...
93
votes
6answers
8k views

Very strange shadow phenomenon

I was laying on my bed, reading a book when the sun shone through the windows on my left. I happened to look at the wall on my right and noticed this very strange effect. The shadow of my elbow, when ...
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6answers
6k views

Can you run away from your shadow?

Now this might be a silly question but it's actually bugging me, this one might be easier to understand if you have kids that watch (or used to watch) Peppa Pig. In one of the episodes, about shadows, ...
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4answers
3k views

How much red, blue and green does white light have?

Different kinds of white light have a different spectrum. Light from a white LED will have blue at the peak intensity while white light from a CFL or something else will have a different looking ...
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4answers
905 views

Why doesn't more light bounce off of things in the manner of sound?

If I'm sitting in the den with my door slightly cracked, I can hear my wife washing dishes in the kitchen down the hall. But why can't I also 'see' images of her washing dishes if, say, I looked up on ...
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3answers
1k views

Why isn't light scattered through transparency?

I'm asking a question that has bothered me for years and years. First of all, let me give some context. I'm a layman in physics (college educated, math major). I've read Feynman's QED cover to cover, ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Squinting at street lights

Simple question, I've always wanted to know the answer to this. Why do you see a pair of lines radiating out from street lights when your squint at them? I can't think of a better way of describing ...
14
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9answers
5k views

Is darkness really light?

According to this wikipedia article "Consequently, most objects that absorb visible light reemit it as heat. So, although an object may appear dark, it is likely bright at a frequency that humans ...
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7answers
2k views

How do I see things of the bright room, being in the dark room?

Visible light emitted or reflected from the objects around us provides information about the world. If I sit in a dark room, and see the bright room outside, I am able to see all the objects of ...
2
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1answer
651 views

Confused about fire?

Im confused about fire. The way I see it : Heat creates (kinetic) energy in mass and this creates stronger vibrations of atoms. When those vibrations are strong enough the electrons interact ...
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4answers
355 views

What's so special about the speed of light? [duplicate]

What's so special about the speed of light? Why do many equations in physics include the speed of light in vacuum $c$? Why do so many thing depend upon it? Why can't it be the speed of sound? ...
14
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3answers
684 views

What are these rays that appear in photograph of sun?

In many images of light emitting objects we see such rays. Why do they appear ? What is the math behind their number and direction?
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3answers
240 views

If light is linearly polarized, does it have some spatial extent?

If light (a photon) is linearly polarized, say vertically, does it have some vertical spatial extent (perhaps in amplitude)?
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2answers
1k views

What determines the apparent radius of the rainbow?

Let's say I know how to compute the apparent radius of a rainbow from the viewpoint of the observer: take a photo of the scene, measure the distance to a known reference object, and its dimensions. ...
6
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1answer
4k views

Why is light produced when an underwater bubble is collapsed with a sound wave?

Why is light produced when an underwater bubble is collapsed with a sound wave? I have come across this fact on a page (similar to this) but can't understand "Why". I'm just curious about this ...
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5answers
4k views

How to bend light?

As we all know that light travels in rectilinear motion. But can we bend light in parabolic path? If not practically then is it possible in paper? Has anyone succeeded in doing that practically ?
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3answers
7k views

Why can't light pass through walls but sound can?

When I sit in a room I can hear voices coming from the adjacent room but the light in adjacent room does not enter my room i.e. sound waves travels through the wall but light waves can't. Why?
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2answers
694 views

How much light is there in space and how heavy is it?

Our night sky is filled with stars. On a dark night a significant fraction of the sky is light. This light, we are told, has been in transit for many millions of years. There must therefore be quite a ...
4
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2answers
263 views

Sensitivity of eye

In which color human eye is most sensitive?
3
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2answers
7k views

Is black a color or absence of color? [closed]

Is black a color or absence of color? When there is no light, everything is black, so how can we say that black is a color?
2
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3answers
338 views

If I turn the light off in a room why does the light instantly disappear? [duplicate]

So today I was asked a question which I found very simple yet I honestly couldn't explain (embarrassingly). One of my mum's friends who knows I'm a scientist asked me "If I turn the light off in a ...
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3answers
320 views

How does the solar sailing concept work?

Wikipedia describes solar sailing as a form of spacecraft propulsion using a combination of light and high speed ejected gasses from a star to push large ultra-thin mirrors to high speeds. I ...
2
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1answer
158 views

The range of light

It occurs to me that the empirical evidence shows that there is a point out in space where light stops coming from. Putting aside the expansion of the universe for a second, and focusing strictly on ...
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4answers
2k views

Light traveling through a medium

Does the frequency of light change when it travels across an interface between two media? What happens to the light wavelength and the light velocity at the interface? I've gotten different answers ...
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1answer
560 views

Photometer: measured Irradiance L converted to photon rate

I am conducting an experiment in which the power meter reading of $410\,nm$ narrow bandpass stimulus is noted to be 30 $\frac{\mu W}{cm^2}$ at a distance of 1 inch away from the light source. I wish ...
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5answers
2k views

What happens to light and mass in the center of a black hole?

I know that black holes are "black" because nothing can escape it due to the massive gravity, but I am wondering if there are any theories as to what happens to the light or mass that enters a black ...
10
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3answers
678 views

What causes atoms to have their specific colors?

I understand that light (color) is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and that it depends on what wavelengths are reflected/absorbed. Though what property of an individual atom gives it its color? ...
9
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2answers
513 views

If light rays obey to the wave equation, why can they be thought as straight lines?

I'm a newbie with physics but I'm wondering how a ray of light can essentially be represented. I have always known that a ray of light proceeds in a straight line until it encounters another object ...
6
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2answers
120 views

Single-mode fibers and ray-theory of light

I have read ray-theory cannot be applied to single-mode fibers. Why? I know rays are kind of an approximation to describe the real behavior of light, and electromagnetic theory and photonics are ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Is there something special in the visible part of electromagnetic spectrum?

I always wondered how much information we get from color. Things we see have different colors; edible products change color when began to spoil so we have a notion what color a fresh product should ...
5
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4answers
1k views

Why are color values stored as Red, Green, Blue?

I learned in elementary school that you could get green by mixing blue with yellow. ...
4
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2answers
175 views

Is manufacturing roughness really the only reason we don't see optical interference in thick dielectrics like windows?

I had always kind of wondered why we didn't see interference in things like windows -- we were taught that the condition is that the thickness of the film/slab/medium just has to be an integral number ...
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1answer
739 views

What is the meaning of this “let there be light” joke?

A middle school teacher across the restaurant is wearing this shirt, and I certainly don't get it.
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2answers
886 views

Can a dot of light travel faster than the speed of light? [duplicate]

Say I have a laser. If I spin the laser so that the beam sweeps in an arc along a very distant object, could that dot travel faster than the speed of light? In Diagram form:
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1answer
1k views

Gravitational Redshift around a Schwarzschild Black Hole

Let's say that I'm hovering in a rocket at constant spatial coordinates outside a Schwarzschild black hole. I drop a bulb into the black hole, and it emits some light at a distance of $r_e$ from the ...
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10answers
2k views

Why do we think of light as a wave?

I've read that light travels in a straight line and has a wavelength of 400nm to 700nm. But I don't understand why does it have a wavelength and what creates its wavelength? I agree with the concept ...